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Interview: JOE NICE

As the true dubstep sound has conquered it’s status of being the newest sound, yet its not only London where it started, and taken over, it has also landed across the pond to Baltimore, USA. With a monthly radio show and appearances at London based nights such as FWD and DMZ, we’ve caught up with DJ Joe Nice:

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Joe! what's going on?
You name it...that's what's going on. EVERYTHING ! Things are going well....I've been staying busy, head down, working. Life is good...real good!
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When the words Dubstep and America are put together like an equation, I get Joe Nice as the answer, so America’s answer to Dubstep is a bold position to be in, would you agree?
It is. It's a huge responsibility. It's not easy being first....there's no instruction manual or set of directions to all know what I mean? You never know what can never know where the music will take you. The sounds are undeniable....

When was it your first heard of Dubstep and how?
I really first heard dubstep (LOUD) at a local event called starscape....4 years ago, all the "big names" from the UK were there: JDaFlex, OrisJay , Emma Feline , Benny Ill , Zed Bias , DJ Hatcha.
All the UK DJs played killer sets:

Emma Feline with her dance-friendly grooves. JDa...much of the same. Mostly old Wookie tunes like "Battle", "Get Enuff"....and all the old Ghost and El-B material.
Oris dropping nothing but his new tunes, which are now classics. "Nocturnal", "Friday Night At The Limit", "Confused", "Disaster".... etc, you know what I'm talking about Darkside. At the end of his set, he dropped a tune called "Said The Spider". My mouth was wide open!
Benny iLL....well he's one of the founding fathers of what we call "dubstep" although no one called it by that name at the time, that's what it really was. Old stuff like..."Gorgon Sound", Smokin', "The Swindle", "Classic Deluxe Part I"....etc. I'm thinking to myself..."Whoa."
Zed Bias....138 Trek", "The Jug"....etc. He then played some of the tunes that made up his Maddslinky album. If anyone else out there remembers "Reasons"....please tell me.
Hatcha....First tune..."DJ Hatcha - Bashment".....a few tunes later "Artwork - Red".....couple more after that..."Benga - Skank"....then......"Skream - The Bug".
He played a bunch of other tunes Benga and Skream "Yellowman", "Conga", "The Mammoth"..etc... that blew my mind and my possibly my eardrums. AT THAT POINT, I was hooked. Without a doubt....HOOKED. I had never EVER heard anything like him before.

I drove home LITERALLY questioning the possibility of sound and depth, the real quest was trying to create that vibe of depth and; in Baltimore and in the stated and beyond.

The quest was to bring something different to the table, push the envelope and challenge the listener, I wanted people here to feel the way I felt that night....driving home, knowing they heard something totally fresh and original. Limits were meant to be pushed!
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What music genre was you situated in prior to the arrival of Dubstep?
Baltimore club...that was it for me, all the time...every time. I'd work on the weekends, save up my cash, then spend it on records. Nothing better than that. iI was the first love, at least for me it was. I was all about the bass, the sounds, everything. It was perfect, got stale, I lost a love for the new stuff.

With you being ‘not so local’ to the ‘home of dubstep’ being London, do you find it challenging to stay so constantly up to date on new material?

Sort of, but people sort me out and I'm appreciative. Not being "there" is a challenge, but distance hasn't stopped a lot of things from happening. Plus, so many people are making music and I'm not afraid to try something different...or play something that I'm feeling, I know what I feel when I hear it....

I’ve noticed that Grime & Dubstep raves are now taking place in the States, is this a reflection on the music becoming more recognised Worldwide?
Absolutely! The sounds weren't being played as a featured event/party 3 years ago, however now, you've got events geared strictly for grime/dubstep. People want the sounds and they want the beats on a big rig. People are tired of being spoon-fed the same stuff over and over again that you're used to hearing. People want something different and fresh to the ears and minds. Dubstep is the cure. People are catching on.

These club nights always include you within the line up; how do these nights compare to FWD and DMZ that you have both played at?
It's different because it's not London. It's also different because people in different places choose to express themselves differently. I'm not sure if that's cultural or geographical...or even venue specific. London has it's own energy and way of doing things, it's what makes London...well... London. When you're there you know how it is. Other places it's different. Not in a bad way just different and that's good too. You want diversity, you want a bit of change, you want things to evolve...not revolve. When you revolve, you'll eventually return to where you started, no progress at all. When you evolve, that's when the magic is created. that's when you've got something special.
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You appeared at DMZ’s first birthday event, and I remember the huge reactions you received from the crowd, how do you recall this night going?
This night was something any DJ would dream of having. was, there was an energy in the room unlike anything I've ever experienced, EVER! It was magic. From start to finish (not just me) but all of the DJ's ripped it. For me, I just remember the feeling of being in complete control. Like being in a zone or something like that. When I was playing, that was all well and good. I love playing, but what I loved most about the night was standing outside with everyone and chatting with the people before the event started up. As most of the readers know, I'm not bashful. Think about this it's 845pm, on a cold, dark night in South London, the doors haven't opened up yet, and there's 50 people waiting to get in. I'm not sure if it was to warm up, but I have a feeling it was to hear beats and have a good time. I had to come out and chill (literally and figuratively) with them. Some of them travelled farther than I did to get to this event. The interaction with them is something I'll never forget.

When your playing out live you quote “people who want a rewind, put your hand in the air, give Joe Nice five, and it’ll go back” (as I saw at DMZ!) or when your doing your show on Gourmet Beats Radio ( or Breaks FM (, everyone in the chat room is like ‘5555555’ Where did this come about, and is this becoming a trademark now?
The whole 5 thing, well, that's honestly the biggest misunderstanding in the western hemisphere. I remember saying on a show a few months ago "gimme 5 for the reload" meaning, if 5 people in the chatroom type 'RELOAD" or some other word meaning, "Joe, gimme the tune again" the tune will ultimately get wheeled up.
Not so.
People in the chatroom started typing the number '5, not the word 'reload' they took what Ii said literally. If this was a game of "Simon Says", I would have lost, because I would have typed 'RELOAD". Next thing you know, people started going with the "5" in other languages....cinco, cinq, cinque, wu (chinese for 5) roman numeral V etc. One thing led to another and now it's just one of those things that everyone does.

Just so you know Darkiside, I actually am now the proud owner of the original "5" sign, the one that everyone saw at the DMZ in March 06. Thanks to Justin Boyd for hooking me up with the photoshot, it's framed and on my wall in my room. I'm serious!
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Whilst being heavily involved within the scene, what producers in the UK are you feeling right now?
Honestly....there are so many producers that I'm into because each of them have so much to offer musically.

I could be here for days....
Mystikz, Loefah, Skream, Distance, Scuba, Kode 9, Caspa, Kromestar, Pinch, Hijak, Headhunter, Shackleton, Appleblim,
Wedge, Blackdown, Burial, S & D, Boxcutter , Zomby, Rusko, MRK 1, Benga, D1, NType, Soundproof Productions

We all know the names. With each of them, there's a certain level of "Hmm I get where they're coming from..", in terms of where their particular sound is forged and created. Not every single tune, but a lot of their tunes. The one set of producers that gets me really wondering is Vex'd. Every time I hear something they've got going on I'm left thinking, "How the hell did they think of this?" their concept of what is musical is inspiring. If there's such a thing as "post-dubstep", they might be it. I love what they're doing.

Any back at home? Any producers for us to look out for?
Oh yes, of course! Names such as:

Moldy, Juju, SecretAgentGel....(who's on FIRE at the moment), RevolDub, Grapes, Robot Death Squad

It's happening stateside definitely trust me. Watch out for Canada too: Ghost, Sacramanga, XI, it's brewing there too.

So are there any plans for Joe Nice Productions?
There are definitely plans for some Joe Nice productions. I'm learning reason right now and I'm just trying to get that sorted out. I've got some ideas that I think would work....we'll see.

Any planned dates for your return to the UK?
Nothing really "planned" I'd like to get there in November. We'll see...Lord willing, we'll make it happen.
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Well to finish up, any last shouts or anyone you want to big up?
I want to thank you for reaching out and giving me the chance to express myself, thank you!

Honestly, I want to big up everyone that's been a part of the experience. I'm just the embodiment of everyone that's been there since day one.

From my parents to the producers and DJ's overseas, the myspace heads that send me comments and messages, the people that download the mixes and show me their ipods, the local supporters, DanGee and JohnAsk Also the people all over that have events Dubwar, Grime City, Gritzy, Subtrac, everywhere...thank you. The sounds are growing and we all are a part of it.

We don't need to turn out someone else's light, so our own light can shine. There's room for everyone and room to grow. That's the dubstep community.

Interviewed by Darkside on 15th August 2006

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